Great character design vs. lame script ~ That Movie Blogger Fella

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Great character design vs. lame script

Monsters vs. Aliens
My rating:

I was looking forward to this movie at first. The premise sounded like a smart and funny take on 1950s monster movie conventions, and the first released pic of the adorably cute Insectasaurus looking like it's about to eat the Golden Gate Bridge looked... well, adorably cute. Then the reviews started coming in, and the consensus opinion seemed to be that it's nowhere near as smart - or funny - as it looked. So my expectations were considerably lowered as I went to watch this.

Turns out, adorable cuteness goes a long way with me.

On her wedding day, Susan Murphy is hit by a meteorite, and the mysterious substance inside it causes her to grow to giant-size. Now dubbed Ginormica, she is captured by the army and put in the company of other captured monsters - the (literally) brainless B.O.B., the mad scientist Dr. Cockroach, the fish-like Missing Link, and the even bigger and monstrous Insectasaurus. As she mourns for the normal life she left behind, an alien named Gallaxhar makes plans to extract the meteorite's substance from her - and may just decide to invade Earth while he's at it.

I'm kinda ashamed that I liked this movie as much as I did. The other reviews were right; there's so much potential in the sci-fi and monster movie conventions that it touches upon, but all of it is criminally unrealized. The script - the product of five credited screenwriters - is a pretty lazy piece of work. There's also a distinct feeling that the movie has been dumbed down and kiddified - I noticed more than one joke or sight gag that had an extra line tacked on to it to make extra sure that we, y'know, get it. It really feels like there's a much smarter and funnier story trapped somewhere inside this made-for-the-kiddies movie.

So kudos to the animators and designers, who picked up where the writers slacked off. I really liked the character designs; Susan is terrifically brought to life, and dare I say pretty hot for an animated chick. The blob-like B.O.B. made me laugh with nothing more than his idiot grin. Insectasaurus' enormous size only amplifies his tremendous cuteness. Dammit, maybe I'm just a sucker for cute - the other characters such as Link and Dr. Cockroach, or General W.R. Monger and the fatuous President clearly aren't meant to be cute, and I thought they were... adequate. The voice acting generally came through, although with such terrific talent as Hugh Laurie and Stephen Colbert, it's a shame the script didn't give them better lines. (I'd love to see some footage of Kiefer Sutherland in the recording booth though - he sounded like he was having fun.)

The plot is entirely by-the-numbers - alien bad guys are defeated, and in the process Susan finds courage and badassery and learns to accept her new monstrous self - but is executed with competence, if little flair. The same can be said of the action scenes; they get the job done, and are never extraneous, but neither do they ever really raise the pulse.

I wonder if what I'm missing out on is the 3D experience. I really did want to catch this in its 3D format, but just didn't have the opportunity (also, I wear glasses, and I'm not sure how it'll work with that). Maybe I would've enjoyed the movie more if I did. Then again, I did enjoy it - I had a couple good LOLs, and I liked Susan and her monster friends. Even the flat jokes and wasted potential didn't detract from that.

NEXT REVIEW: Syurga Cinta
Anticipation level: bleuurrraaarrggh